22 March 2014

Luke 15:11-32

“But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion.” (v. 20)


The story of the prodigal son follows the other two stories of loss, the lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7) and the lost coin (Luke 15:8-9) with which we may all be quite familiar. In each there is real upset and real rejoicing - never more so than when the lost son is seen while some way off and his father runs to embrace him and hold him close.

The story of the lost sheep surely qualifies our mission as Church and as individuals to seek to find those whom we do not yet know and show them compassion. For it is those who do not yet know of abiding love from a God who is longing for us all to be brought within God's fold, that is important. God in Christ did not come to be amongst those already committed and to do their work for them, but to release those in the fold to go out in search of the lost, the broken, the widowed and the fatherless. This is even more powerfully demonstrated for us with the story of the prodigal son. The father weeping and tormented by the loss of his son cannot hold himself back when he sees him returning and throws the biggest party ever to celebrate.

Matthew Fox in his book, Original Blessings, writes that "Jesus, like all the other prophets, taught people to … be instruments of new creation". Fox encourages his readers to find all things new because we have become so wrapped up with what is wrong with ourselves and inside our churches, rather than seeing our own potential.

Our faithful God, whom we believe to see all and know all, longs only for us and the entire world to be with God. These stories help us to see how constant and never-ceasing is God's love for us. With heartfelt longing they call us all to know that love for ourselves, and to draw close to God so that we may live as God intends in God's world.

To Ponder

  • Look back over your sacred story and notice the moments when you have 'returned home' and been touched by the love of God again. Give thanks for it.
  • What do you think God's faithfulness has got to say to you about remaining within the fold of your local church or venturing out from it?
  • How could you help your church community look outside and beyond itself?

Bible notes author

Margaret Sawyer

Margaret Sawyer has worked for the Methodist Connexional Team for ten years, first as connexional secretary for Women's Network and then as the Church's equality and diversity officer. She now works to support preaching and worship in her local circuit and district.